Driverless vehicles are hitting the roads throughout North America, and they will eventually take over driving. While experts predict the driverless cars will remain a minority until about 2050, we have to recognize that is only 32 years away. Technology is moving at an ever increasing pace however legislative change moves at snail speed.
The world’s biggest companies are developing and adopting increasingly driverless technologies with trucking companies and Uber leading the way. Uber has already committed to purchasing 24000 Volvo SUVs which they are going to equip with autonomous driving technology. As people become more comfortable with the driverless cars, the adoption rate of them will increase in pace.
The technology will change the way we get around in cities, and will make impacts on ownership rates and insurance issues as well. Current regulations will have to be updated rapidly. Currently there is no standard, international rule system for their regulations. Safety regulations will have to be the same in order to protect passengers and people outside the vehicles.
What will have to be sorted out though is how to regulate the standards for the ‘fitness’ of sensors that replace human eyes and ears. The issues around liability in accidents will have to be sorted as well as we abdicate the decision making from humans to algorithms in the cars’ computers.
Enormous changes will also happen as we adopt a ‘ride sharing’ model in which many people in urban areas will no longer own cars but will use pool cars. This will change the traffic patterns in cities and infrastructure needs.
Other considerations also include the rates of adoption of electric vehicles and how the reduction of gas purchases nation wide will impact the tax revenues which pay for road improvements. This must be an issue on the radar of government. As more and more charging stations are rolled out in Ontario the government must be working on revenue models. I suppose that time will tell how all of these changes impact us.